Your health & local services

Dementia

Dementia is a group of progressive and incurable diseases affecting the brain. One example is Alzheimer’s disease.

Most of the people diagnosed with dementia are over 65, but it can also affect younger age groups. Dementia has a major impact on both individuals and their families.

We’re working closely with other organisations – such as Avon and Wiltshire Partnership Trust, South Gloucestershire Council, and the Alzheimer’s Society to support people with dementia and their families to live well with the disease.

Together we’ve made real improvements. We have better information being supplied to patients from GPs and health specialists, and waiting times for referrals and diagnosis are now shorter than the national average.

Symptoms of dementia

Symptoms can include:

  • memory loss, particularly of recent events
  • difficulties in organising and planning tasks
  • becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
  • difficulty finding the right words
  • difficulty with numbers and/or handling money in shops
  • changes in personality and mood
  • depression

Living well with dementia

Here is a short film developed in partnership by South Gloucestershire Council, the Alzheimer's Society and people living with dementia and their partners:

Dementia diagnosis 

In South Gloucestershire diagnosis of dementia is undertaken in primary care or by hospital based clinicians.

Some GPs supported by the nurses of the Memory Service diagnose straightforward late onset dementia and prescribe the first line medication.

The Memory Service also assesses and diagnoses patients referred by GPs, as does Neurology at Southmead Hospital.

The system is flexible, for example people who have been diagnosed by their GP can access the post diagnosis support provided by the Memory Service and patients who do not get on with their initial medication can be referred to the Memory Service for review.

This new, more integrated, way of working has been well received by patients and has reduced waiting times from months to weeks. 

About dementia (NHS Choices)

What to do if you notice signs of dementia

If you’re worried about your memory, or you think someone close to you may be developing signs of dementia, please speak to your GP first.

Your GP will investigate, and may diagnose dementia with support from the memory nurses. They may also refer you to the local memory clinic for a more specialist assessment or, if they’ve diagnosed dementia, for post-diagnosis support.

Find local support

Our Dementia Guide to Services (below) details key services, organisations and contact telephone numbers in South Gloucestershire where you can access information and support. It’s been developed by the NHS, South Gloucestershire Council, Wellaware and other partners.

To request copies, please contact pfrisby@nhs.net.

Cover for Dementia Guide to services

Dementia Guide to services

The Dementia Guide to Services provides a list of services, organisations and contact telephone numbers in South Gloucestershire where you may be able to access information and support. 

Memory Cafes

Memory Cafés offer a friendly welcome for anyone affected by dementia, or worried about their or someone else’s memory. They provide practical information and support, as well as the opportunity for people to ask questions and to listen to others’ experience. They also provide an informal and social environment in which to learn new skills, enjoy activities, listen to guest speakers and make new friends.

Find out about local Memory Cafes on the South Gloucestershire Council website

More information

Dementia Advisors

About 2,000 people in South Gloucestershire are known to have dementia and they will now receive an improved level of support while their symptons are comparatively mild.

The Dementia Advisors service has been set up to support people with in the early stages of dementia and help prevent crises from occuring.

Their role is to provide personalised support and information to people with a dementia diagnosis and their families and other carers.

Referrals to the service are made through GPs, social care teams, community health practitioners, individuals and their carers and the Older Adults Community Mental Health Team. 

Evaluation of impact of the new roles will take place in the coming months and will guide future work in the area.

You can find contact information below for dementia advisors based on which cluster your GP practice is in:

Cluster one: Bev Burne 07773 031171

Cluster two: Mark Swepson 07773 030826

Cluster three: Sue Holdaway 07976 943748

Cluster four, five and six: Jonathan Stockwell, Jules Hammersley and Martin Colley 0117 961 0693 

Memory assessment service

Increasing dementia diagnosis rates is a high priority for the CCG, but having a dementia diagnosis service based in a hospital can present a barrier to older, vulnerable residents, who may find it difficult to travel. Dealing with a higher number of people at one location can also lead to long waiting times and dissatisfaction among patients.

Our solution was to move dementia diagnosis out of hospital into the community and have GPs carry out a simple memory assessment test that could detect early signs of dementia.

To support the scheme, we promoted the benefits of early diagnosis to local GPs and rolled out a quick and accurate new screening tool. We also worked closely with Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership memory service nurses and the Alzheimer’s Society to provide information and support to patients after their diagnosis.

The service has helped to reduce waiting times from 9 weeks to 5 weeks, improve dementia diagnosis rates by 38% and was even nominated for a national Health Service Journal award for innovation in mental health.

If you think you or someone you know may be showing signs of dementia, contact your GP practice. 

Dementia - Lasting Memories

In June 2014 students from Patchway School in Bristol met local residents with dementia. Watch this video to see what they found out. 

Mental health and wellbeing

Dementia Research

Research offers hope and leads to improved understanding of what causes the disease, helps in the development of more effective treatments and care, and hopefully, one day, lead to a cure. But for research to progress, more people are needed to take part in more studies.

That is why the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) in partnership with Alzheimer's Research UK and Alzheimer's Society have developed 'Join Dementia Research', a new service that allows people to register their interest in participating in dementia research and be matched to suitable studies.

"There are so many unanswered questions about dementia, and especially about how we can best care for people with the condition. Join Dementia Research is a fantastic way to bring the research studies focused on answering these important questions together with the thousands of people who want to take part in them."

- Dr Peter Bagshaw, South Gloucestershire GP and Clinical Lead for Dementia

What are the benefits for people with dementia?

  • Provides greater access to research opportunities across the country.
  • Enables people to contribute to research studies which match their information and interests.
  • Empowers patients to take control and explore opportunities themselves.

Anyone over the age of 18, with or without dementia, can register as a volunteer, or sign-up on behalf of someone else. Register via the Join Dementia Research website or by calling one of the charity helplines: Alzheimer’s Research UK on 0300 111 5 111 or Alzheimer’s Society on 0300 222 1122.